Home » Book Review » Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters

Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters

Highest Duty: My Search for What Really MattersHighest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley B. Sullenberger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring book, I could sense the guidance of writer Jeffrey Zaslow throughout this amazing story of the life of pilot Chesley Sullenberger who landed U.S. Air flight 1549 in the Hudson River on a very cold January afternoon.

Undoubtedly, everything in Sully’s past helped prepare him for what could have been a disastrous bird strike and subsequent successful landing.

Glider Training He discounts his training as a glider pilot, noting instead that he relied on energy management, using the energy of the Airbus, without the function of either engine, to land safely. I still say his glider training must have helped. 🙂

Crash Site Investigation Definitely, his history of studying aviation accidents and reviewing an experimental “ditching” exercise from 1944 in the James River, and volunteering as a crash site investigator gave Sully tips (“procedural guidelines”) that he used just before his landing in the river.

Aircrew Ejection Study Something else that was critical to the safe landing of the aircraft was Sully’s fast decision to sacrifice the airplane for saving lives. Sully mentions an aircrew ejection study which examined why pilots waited too long (or never) to eject from their planes. The study found that pilots often tried to fix the unfixable. Sully’s flight was a little over 5 minutes – he says, “I had never forgotten the aircrew ejection study I had learned about in my military days. Why did pilots wait too long before ejecting from planes that were about to crash?…The answer is that many doomed pilots feared retribution if they lost multimillion-dollar jets. And so they remained determined to try to save the airplane, often with disastrous results.” Sully did not have the luxury of time, nor altitude. His disaster was looming and he “chose not to” worry about being questioned by superiors and investigators.


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